As much as you do not want to admit it, the Christmas music has hit the airwaves, stores are packing decorations, and the holiday sale commercials are running back to back. Holiday shopping is upon is, and so are the massive expenses that come with. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, the average holiday spending last year was $800 per person, and since holiday spending has increased every year since 2009, one can expect another increase this year, so every dollar that you can save is important. Before your bank account is cleaned out entirely and the credit card bills continue to roll in, there are a few ways to try and avoid overspending this holiday season.
Set a Spending Limit
Let’s face it, holiday shopping is quite expensive and you hardly hear anyone ever say that they are spending less this year. As we finish out November and head into prime holiday shopping crunch time, you can prepare for the wallet to empty and start racking out massive bills, so it is a good idea to figure out what you can afford and set an actual spending limit. Hopefully you have already started a shopping budget, but if you have not, there are three more paychecks between now and Christmas, so it would be a great idea to start putting money off to the side to have available funds to use instead of putting on credit, and are able to stick to your limit.
Make a List in Advance
If you have a crowd to buy for, you most likely have some you plan on buying small gifts and other large, so why not make a list of all that you plan on buying for and set a limit on each. Now you can start to go through the list and figure out what to get each person, instead of waiting until the last minute (like I tend to do, but I am getting better). When you delay, and go out shopping during the mad last-minute rush, the smaller gift plans could be jumbled together with the larger plans, and you can end up spending more than you had planned, and therefore ruining any plans of a holiday budget.
Since you have a limit in mind and have made a list for all that you need to buy for, it is time to start comparing prices instead of just going out shopping and buying at the first place you see. With so much of shopping online, you can compare between many online retailers, while still having time to purchase and receive shipping with plenty of time to wrap gifts before the big day. By staying in tune to what the prices are going for, you can now avoid consumer trap days such as Black Friday, where it seems that retailers just markup original prices to show a greater discount received so you really do not know what is a good deal and what is not.
Start Shopping Early On
Not only to avoid the last-minute rush and panic, starting shopping early on can ease the financial burden of buying gifts all at once, so you are able to at least spread out the pain a bit. By starting early, at least in November, you are able to pick out what deals are the best, knowing when to pull the trigger on some of the more expenses purchases that you need to make. For years, I would wait until the days leading up to, and I have even been known to go out on Christmas Eve to make any final purchases, so now that I have finally learned my lesson, I can avoid the crowds and save money and my sanity at the same time.
Take Advantage of Credit Card Rewards
Sure, you are buying gifts for others during this giving season, but why not take care of yourself at the same time. If you do not have a great credit rewards card, now would be the time to apply so you can receive in time to make all of your holiday gift purchases. I have the Citi Costco card, and you can get, depending on the purchase, between 1 to 4% cashback on purchases, so essentially free money on purchases that you were going to make anyways. Combine this card with purchases over the course of the entire year, and you could be in line to receive a check for hundreds of dollars, just for using your credit card. My wife buys lots of items at Victoria’s Secret as well, luck me and not so lucky me! She racks up a ton of rewards for money she will spend no matter what…though unfortunately, every time I go to the Victoria Secret credit card login I am no less than amazed at how much she can spend there. Outside of that one issue, credit card rewards are the way to go!